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CWS@TB: Hellickson strikes out nine Sox for win No. 8

The Rays are the hottest team in baseball, as they're on a six-game winning streak and have won 10 of their last 11 games.

They'll turn to Jeremy Hellickson on Wednesday to keep things rolling in the third act of a four-game set against the Twins at Tropicana Field. Hellickson in 7-1 in his last 13 starts, with an 8-3 record on the season and a 4.67 ERA.

Hellickson struggled earlier in the year -- his ERA hit 5.61 at the end of May -- but has settled down since.

"I really have liked how he has struggled and come back from the struggle here," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's tough to do that in the big leagues sometimes. I don't know that he's really struggled to that level since we've seen him here. So to be able to struggle like that, right himself and really pitch back at this level has been impressive."

The Twins, almost universally picked to be one of MLB's bottom feeders in 2013, have found themselves in the middle of a rough patch. In July, they have managed only one win in nine games, and they've lost eight of their last 10.

Earlier in the season, their starting rotation struggled to give deep, quality starts, and many of their woes were blamed on a weak rotation that relied too much on the bullpen. But before long, when the pitching was finally there, the offense wasn't. The Twins haven't been able to put together a complete effort -- particularly in their current skid.

"We have not had a run yet where we've really got going offensively and pitching-wise at the same time," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've had our moments with both, but it just hasn't clicked. We have people. You have it up and down the lineup. We know we can score runs. But we haven't put it together. We haven't really had a run where we've put together five, six, seven runs a game and our pitchers have gone deep into games. It's all about getting a group together and doing the same things."

The Twins have held a lead in four of their eight losses in July. In nine games this month, the Twins' opponents have outscored them, 55-30.

Right-hander Kevin Correia toes the rubber for the Twins on Wednesday hoping to give another quality start, but also looking for some offensive support. In his last start, Friday at Toronto, Correia gave up four runs on 10 hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings. The offense managed seven hits and didn't score a run. Correia is 6-6 on the season with a 4.19 ERA.

Twins: Willingham on the mend, Ramirez still having symptoms
Less than a week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Josh Willingham has started to do some light exercises. Willingham was initially placed on the disabled list with a meniscus tear and a bruised bone and wasn't expected to undergo surgery. Willingham changed his mind and will be sidelined for about four to six weeks after the procedure.

According to Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony, everything is going fine with Willingham.

But for the Twins' other injured outfielder, Wilkin Ramirez, things are moving slowly. Ramirez was initially placed on the seven-day disabled list on May 26 after sustaining a concussion and has shown little improvement since then as he suffers from headaches and recurring symptoms.

Rays: Clean defense ties franchise mark
Before Chris Archer's wild pickoff throw in the sixth inning on Tuesday, the last time the Rays committed an error was in the eighth inning of their June 29 matchup against the Tigers. With 10 errorless games, they tied a club record, which they had reached on three previous occasions -- the most recent July 28 to Aug. 7, 2011.

A big part of that clean defense is shortstop Yunel Escobar, who has played 46 consecutive errorless games -- the second longest streak at the position in franchise history, second to Chris Gomez, who went 52 games in 2002.

Worth noting
• Justin Morneau has one hit in 16 at-bats on the Twins' current road trip, a home run on Monday night. His batting average has dropped 12 points in that span to .272.

• Since moving back to the leadoff spot on July 1, Desmond Jennings has 14 hits with 12 runs scored. He has a .389 batting average this month with five extra-base hits, six RBIs, four steals and only three strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. Comments